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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ AstronomyView Options:  |  |  |   

Astronomy on Ancient Coins

Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.

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Invincible Sol charging in a facing quadriga and raising his hand commanding the sun to rise, is one of our favorite reverses of the Roman Imperial series and Forum's recommended coin type for Probus. If you only plan to buy one Probus coin, it should be this type!
RA87626. Billon antoninianus, Hunter IV 315 (also 2nd officina); Pink VI-1, p. 44, em. 3; RIC V-2 911; Cohen VI 682; SRCV III 12041, Choice EF, full circle centering, most silvering remains, uneven strike with part of legends a littl weak, weight 4.298 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, emission 3, 280 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR PROBVS P F AVG, radiate bust left in consular robe, eagle-tipped scepter in right; reverse SOLI INVICTO (to the invincible sun god), Sol in a spread quadriga facing, radiate, cloak billowing out behind, raising right hand commanding sunrise, whip in left hand, CM below center, XXIS in exergue; $150.00 (127.50)


Pantikapaion, Tauric Chersonesos, Thrace, c. 109 - 105 B.C.

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Panticapaeum (Kerch, Ukraine) was an important city and port in Tauric Chersonesos on the western side of the Cimmerian Bosporus. It was founded by Milesians in the late 7th or early 6th century B.C. In the 5th century B.C. it became the capital of the Thracian kings of Bosporus. The last of the kings of Bosporus left it to Mithridates VI Eupator, king of Pontus. After his defeat to Rome, he committed suicide at Panticapaeum in 63 B.C. In that same year, the city was partly destroyed by an earthquake.
GB88987. Bronze dichalkon, SNG BM 941, SNG Cop 48, MacDonald Bosporus 161, Anokhin 203, SNG Stancomb -, VF, full legend, dark patina, marks, weight 2.029 g, maximum diameter 12.8 mm, Pantikapaion (Kerch, Crimea) mint, c. 109 - 105 B.C.; obverse star of eight rays around central pellet, Π-A-N-T-I-K-A-Π between rays; reverse tripod lebes; ex Ancient Imports; scarce; $125.00 (106.25)


Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D., Carrhae, Mesopotamia

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Carrhae is the Haran of the Bible. Crassus was defeated and killed by the Parthians near Carrhae in 53 B.C. Emperor Galerius was defeated on the same site in 296 A.D.
RP89001. Bronze AE 21, SNG Righetti 2556 (same dies); RPC Online IV 6482 (5 specimens); BMC Mesopotamia p. 82, 1 & pl. XII, 3; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -, F, thick tight flan, porous, light corrosion, small edge crack, weight 10.965 g, maximum diameter 21.4 mm, die axis 0o, Carrhae (Altinbasak, Turkey) mint, 7 Mar 161 - 17 Mar 180 A.D.; obverse AYTOKP KAIC MAP AYPHΛI OYHROC, laureate head right; reverse KARHNWN ΦIΛOPWME, crescent horns upward, resting on a globe, fillets hanging from each side, star with six horns between the horns; ex Ancient Numismatic Enterprise; rare; $125.00 (106.25)


Tiberius, 19 August 14 - 16 March 37 A.D., Tripolis ad Maeandrum, Lydia

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Tripolis on the Meander (Tripolis ad Maeandrum, also Neapolis, Apollonia, and Antoninopolis) was on the borders of Phrygia, Caria and Lydia, on the northern bank of the upper course of the Maeander, and on the road leading from Sardes by Philadelphia to Laodicea ad Lycum. It was 20 km to the northwest of Hierapolis. The earliest mention of Tripolis is by Pliny (v. 30), who treats it as Lydian. Ptolemy (v. 2. 18) and Stephanus of Byzantium describe it as Carian. Hierocles (p. 669) likewise calls it Lydian. Some modern academics have placed it in Phrygia. The ruins of Tripolis ad Maeandrum mostly date from the Roman and Byzantine periods and include a theater, baths, city walls, and a necropolis. An ancient church, dating back 1,500 years, was unearthed in 2013.
RP87200. Bronze AE 19, RPC I 3056, SNG Cop 743, SNGvA 3317, SNG Mnchen 809, Waddington 2681, Weber 3407, gF, green patina with red earthen highlighting, flatly struck, minor edge chipping, pits on reverse, weight 3.711 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, die axis 0o, Tripolis ad Maeandrum (near Yenicekent, Turkey) mint, magistrate Menandrou Metrodoros Philokaisar; obverse TIBEPION KAICAPA TPI/ΠOΛEITAI, laureate head right; reverse MENAN∆POC ΦIΛOKAICAP, radiate head of Helios right, O/T/∆ in right field; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 47 (9 Oct 2016), lot 327; scarce; $120.00 (102.00)


Kingdom of Commagene, Epiphanes and Callinicus, 72 A.D.

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In 72 A.D., only two years after Antiochus IV, King of Commagene, sent troops, commanded by his son Epiphanes, to aid Titus in the siege of Jerusalem, he was accused by the governor of Syria of conspiring with Parthia against Rome. After a reign of thirty-four years from his first appointment by Caligula, Antiochus was deprived of his kingdom. He retired first to Sparta, and then to Rome, where he passed the remainder of his life and was treated with great respect. Antiochus' sons, Epiphanes and Callinicus briefly ruled the kingdom but after an encounter with Roman troops, fled to Parthia. They later joined their father in Rome.
SH90336. Bronze AE 21, RPC I 3861; BMC Galatia p. 110, 1 ff.; De Luynes 3440; SGICV 5515, F, dark patina, red earthen deposits, weight 7.954 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 45o, Samosata (Samsat, Turkey) mint, 72 A.D.; obverse Epiphanes and Callinicus riding left on horseback, each wearing chlamys, BACIΛEΩC / YIOI in exergue; reverse KOMMAΓHNΩN, Capricorn right, star above, anchor flukes left below, all within laurel wreath, border of dots; ex John Jencek; $100.00 (85.00)


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Alexandria was founded around a small, ancient Egyptian town c.?332 B.C. by Alexander the Great, king of Macedon and leader of the Greek League of Corinth, during his conquest of the Achaemenid Empire. Alexandria became an important center of Hellenistic civilization and remained the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt and Roman and Byzantine Egypt for almost 1,000 years, until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in A.D. 641, when a new capital was founded at Fustat (later absorbed into Cairo). Alexandria was at one time the second most powerful city of the ancient Mediterranean region, after Rome.
RX88955. Bronze hemiobol, Geissen 8, Dattari 11, RPC I 5021, Milne 9, Curtis, Kampmann 2.16, BMC Alexandria 8, Emmett 16 (R1), F, corrosion, earthen deposits, weight 2.347 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 3rd series (undated), c. 10 - 11 A.D.; obverse KAIΣAP, laureate head right; reverse ΣEBAΣTOΣ (clockwise from upper right), thick crescent with horns upward, star with eight rays above; ex Beast Coins, ex Keith Emmett Collection; $100.00 (85.00)


Pontos (Uncertain City), c. 119 - 100 B.C.

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The comets depicted are almost certainly the comets described in Justin's epitome of the Historiae Philippicae of the Augustan historian Pompeius Trogus (Justin 37.2.1-2): "The future greatness of this man [Mithridates Eupator] had been foretold by heavenly portents. For both in the year in which he was born [134/133 B.C.] and in the year in which he first began to rule [120/119 B.C.], a comet gleamed so brightly for 70 days throughout each period that the whole sky seemed to be on fire. In its extent, each of these comets filled one quarter of the sky and surpassed the sun in brilliance. They took four hours to rise and four hours to set."
GB84563. Bronze AE 12, SNG BM 984; SNG Stancomb 653; Lindgren III 154; HGC 7 317, VF, small flan, slightly off center, green patina with buff earthen highlighting, weight 1.623 g, maximum diameter 12.2 mm, Pontos, uncertain mint, c. 119 - 100 B.C.; obverse horse-head right, with comet star of eight points and central pellet on neck; reverse comet star of seven points, central pellet, and tail to right; ex Agora Auctions sale, lot 25; very rare; $95.00 (80.75)


Cales, Campania, Italy, c. 265 - 240 B.C.

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The Romans captured Cales in 335 B.C. and established a colony in 334 with Latin rights of 2,500 citizens. It was an important base in the war against Hannibal. Before 184 B.C. more settlers were sent there. After the Social War it became a municipium. Its fertile territory and manufacture of black glazed pottery, which was even exported to Etruria, made it prosperous. Inscriptions name six gates of the town: and there are considerable remains of antiquity, especially of an amphitheater and theater, of a supposed temple, a Roman necropolis, and other edifices.
GB73620. Bronze AE 20, SNG Cop 309; HN Italy 436, SNG ANS 183, cf. BMC Italy p. 79, 23 (star of eight rays vice O below), F, green patina, tight flan, weight 6.161 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 225o, Cales (Calvi Risorta, Italy) mint, c. 265 - 240 B.C.; obverse CALENO, laureate head of Apollo left, star behind; reverse man-faced bull right, star of sixteen rays above, Θ (or O?) below, CALENO in exergue; $85.00 (72.25)


Pontos (Uncertain City), c. 119 - 100 B.C.

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The comets depicted are almost certainly the comets described in Justin's epitome of the Historiae Philippicae of the Augustan historian Pompeius Trogus (Justin 37.2.1-2): "The future greatness of this man [Mithridates Eupator] had been foretold by heavenly portents. For both in the year in which he was born [134/133 B.C.] and in the year in which he first began to rule [120/119 B.C.], a comet gleamed so brightly for 70 days throughout each period that the whole sky seemed to be on fire. In its extent, each of these comets filled one quarter of the sky and surpassed the sun in brilliance. They took four hours to rise and four hours to set."
GB89134. Bronze AE 12, SNG BM 984; SNG Stancomb 653; Lindgren III 154; HGC 7 317, gVF, weight 2.328 g, maximum diameter 11.2 mm, Pontos, uncertain mint, c. 119 - 100 B.C.; obverse horse-head right, with comet star of eight points and central pellet on neck; reverse comet star of seven points, central pellet, and tail to right; very rare; $80.00 (68.00)


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D.

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Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") was the sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. In 274 the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to 387 and there were enough devotees in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them. The date 25 December was selected for Christmas to replace the popular Roman festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
RS76202. Silver denarius, RIC IV 111, RSC IV 39, Choice VF, excellent portrait, well centered, toned, porous, light marks, weight 3.115 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 1 Jan 241 - Jul 243 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse AETERNITATI AVG, Sol standing slightly right, radiate head left, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, globe in left hand; $70.00 (59.50)




  



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Astronomy